Fall is bringing cool weather but also opportunities for community members to get active.

“We are going to have 45 events happening over two and half days,” said Indiana Dunes park ranger Rafi Wilkinson.

The Indiana Dunes Outdoor Adventure Festival takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center and across the region in Porter, LaPorte and Lake counties.

It is the first of its kind in the Region.

“The idea started off as a hiking festival, but we felt it needed to be more than that,” Wilkinson said. “Everyone I asked or approached wanted to be a part of it, so it plays to everyone strengths. We believe it will be an annual event for us.”

The festival will offer a myriad of outdoor adventure opportunities for beginners, families, kids, those with limited mobility and avid outdoor enthusiasts. Activities include hiking, paddling, biking, geo-caching, nature photography, birding, orienteering, yoga, etc.

“We have a strong geo-caching group and they are putting on four events. We’re also offering backpacking, which is what a lot of national parks have, that we don't have,” Wilkinson said.

As a special event that weekend, an overnight backpacking trip will be lead to Cowles Bog beach and back. Equipment is available to rent.

Also featured during the festival is the grand opening of the Little Calumet River Water Trail. To celebrate, there will be a tour sponsored by the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, Shirley Heinz Land Trust and Save the Dunes.

“It hasn’t been navigable in decades. It’s too small for a canoe to be mobile, but there will be kayaks available to borrow,” Wilkinson said.

This three-day event is free because of the support from Indiana Dunes Tourism, the Indiana Dunes State Park and dozens of other partners. Registration is strongly recommended.

Another fall event coming up is Highland’s Festival of Trails, which focuses on art and fitness.

This year’s festival also will include a Fun Run/Walk with Girls on the Run of Northwest Indiana and tricycle races hosted by Milestone Therapy. There also will be sidewalk poetry, activities both inside and outside the Highland Branch Library, and a small farmer's market, hosted by Zandstra’s Farm and Greenhouse.

“Highland Main Street is excited to have this year’s event located right on the street in downtown,” said Lance Ryskamp, Highland Redevelopment Commission assistant.

Ryskamp said that in the past, the festival was held in the municipal parking lot at Kennedy and Highway.

“Having the festival on Jewett Street, with The Primitive Peddler, Sip Coffee, Miles Books, Dan’s Pierogies, the bike trail and the downtown murals all located here, makes it the perfect site,” Ryskamp said.

Highland Festival of the Trail, which is free runs from 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Oct. 14. It will be on Jewett Street, from Kennedy Avenue to Fourth Street.

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